In the Shadows of Fortnite

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Last November, Tabitha and I were struggling through the Fortnite craze with Wyatt. At the time, I penned a blog post that opened with this:

“I feel caught between being a parent and a gamer. Caught between my son loving Fortnite and me seeing the game for what it is, exploitative. I find myself fighting the urge to erase the game from my house. To pretend that Fortnite does not exist and funnel Wyatt towards games that are not built upon:

  • The addictive free-to-play foundations of games such as Candy Crush and Clash of Clans. Games that are built to encourage consumers to spend real life money to advance/keep playing. Pay-to-win, children!
  • Female characters designed to be objectified/sexual eye candy.
  • A non-stop gameplay loop.
  • An in-game store that creates an artificial need to buy skins (think: clothing/costumes) and items that will expire within an arbitrary time limit.

I can feel my parents surging within me, screaming, “JUST PULL THE PLUG!” But I’m trying to push through that deep rooted feeling. I’m trying to like Fortnite for my son; I’m trying to parent through it.”

I wrote much more than what I’m sharing above. The Fortnite post was up, on this site, for a couple of hours until I removed it. Not that I disagreed with anything that I had written, but I realized that the game had changed.

There comes a point, in parenting, where you need to work through things on your own. I realized that I was painting myself, as a parent, into a corner. Failing to realize:

  • That my attitude towards Fornite might change in the future.
  • That one day Wyatt might discover my blog and read what I have written about him.
  • That I want to be careful with how I represent my son online.
  • That some things are best worked out as a family. Privately.

Yes, we struggled as a family through Fortnite. I know many of you did. But me writing that unpublished blog post made me re-think how I blog about myself and my family. Not everything that happens in our homes, with our kids, needs to end up online.

An Unofficial Revival of Boys Club

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Wyatt wasn’t having the best of days yesterday. A combo of East Texas allergies and a knee injury at homeschool co-op had him snuffling/limping about. Tab ended up going to church alone to teach the kids (normally I tag along and help her). This Wednesday night though, I got to stay home with Wyatt and have a bit of an unofficial Boys Club revival. Two guys. All alone. What are we to do?

First, we kind of geeked out over a Star Wars trailer breakdown:

Second, we watched the Untitled Goose Game Gameplay Trailer. Wyatt just laughed. “We need this, dad.” I love listening to him laugh his deep belly laugh.

And then third, we played some Fortnite. I am still not a huge fan of the game. But recent changes have made the Chapter 2 update revolutionary for me (which means I’ll actually play with Wyatt now). The shooting, which always felt off/not good, feels dialed in now. I can shoot with the best of them and actually rack up a kill streak. Wyatt and I have consistently placed in the top ten playing duos. We even achieved our first Victory Royale over the weekend. Oh yeah!

Victory Royale!

Playing with Wyatt last night, I realized that we haven’t had a lot of one-on-one time lately. As we played Fornite, he talked. I learned about the video games kids at church are playing:

“Dad, so-and-so and so-and-so play Halo, but they aren’t allowed to play Fornite, isn’t Halo more violent?”

I smiled.

There is something about getting to hang out with him, one-on-one, that is super special. Tabitha is probably smiling as she reads this. At one point in my life, when she would leave, I’d put Wyatt to bed as quick as I could so that I could have some “me” time. God and the passage of time have worked to change me.

Was reading an article the other day that got me thinking about setting aside time to just spend with Wyatt. I liked this point:

Taking them out for breakfast. One much-loved tradition in our family is taking my children out for breakfast on Saturday mornings—one of them each week. It’s a tradition I have lost and revived and lost again and revived again. It is a tradition worth maintaining. The $10 or $20 expense and the time it takes pales in comparison to the investment in their lives. I will never regret our breakfast daddy dates.

Daddy dates. Going to think more on this one.

How do you make time to connect with your kids?

How did your parents make time to connect with you as a kid?

Let me know in the comments below.

From Across the Net – “How Fortnite’s success led to months of intense crunch at Epic Games”

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I’m not saying that this is right… but I think businesses are managed like this far more than we think. This scatterbrained approach to management, constantly shifting to put out the biggest fire, leads to worker frustration as nothing is ever getting done. Good management respects its greatest resource, time.

“If a build went out into the wild and there was a negative reaction, then someone at the top would say, ‘We need to change that,’” one source said, “and everyone would be pulled in from what they were doing, and people were told to cancel their plans, because they were going to crunch until this was done. It was never-ending. It’s great for supporting the community and for the public. But that comes at a cost.”

You can read more of Polygon’s article titled “How Fortnite’s success led to months of intense crunch at Epic Games“.

I’m happy that God allows you to consume “blank”

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Feeling like you have to defend your personal and even parenting choices, to fellow Christians, feels weird. You’d think that everyone would be on the same team. Brothers and sisters in Christ and all that, but nope.

Over the years, I’ve had many of these discussions. Whether I’m telling someone about how I don’t let Wyatt watch Marvel movies due to content OR how I dislike the sexual character designs in Fortnite, I still feel judged. Christians are a weird lot where freedom in Christ seems to mean do whatever feels good to you. Do the pleasurable thing, Jesus surely said, and don’t think too much about it.

You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial. – 1 Corinthians 10:23 (NLT)

A big part of our faith journey is dedicated to asking the questions:

  • Can I consume this?
  • Should I be consuming this?
  • What place does this thing have in my life?

We want those black and white answers where God simply says, “YES, YOU CAN PLAY GRAND THEFT AUTO: SINFUL EDITION.” But that’s not how the Christian walk works. The Christian walk is more about reading the Bible, listening to what God has to say, and engaging God AND the Holy Spirit in our decisions.

Have you ever noticed how when we don’t hear from God (He isn’t answering fast enough), we often turn to friends and even online communities for answers? Don’t get me wrong, community is a good thing. Being a part of several online communities, I have learned that what Christians are really looking for is justification for their media consumption.

We’ll say: “Andrew plays DOOM so why can’t I?”

The thing is, God may convict me over something completely different than you. I get that. It’s cool. But this judgement thing, making a fellow believer feel guilty over something God has convicted them over, is not cool. I’m happy that God allows you to consume _____________. I’m happy that you get to enjoy that freedom. I am. But please do not use your freedom to judge, and in effect, enslave me.

Thank You for a Great 2018

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Standing on the edge of 2018, I would like to thank my friends and family for supporting me and my writing. THANK YOU! I’ve been at this on JBG for over sixteen years now. Kind of crazy to think about! Time does fly.

Reading over posts I’ve written this past year, we’ve put some miles behind us:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been replaced with Fortnite, in the Hall household.
  • JohnnyBGamer crossed the 3,000 view mark this month (December). I TRY and not focus on numbers, but I was excited over this. I’ve written more this past year than I did in 2017 (118 posts versus 48). While I’m not quite back up to my 2016 numbers (4,700 views/101 posts that year), I’m getting close to it again.
  • I didn’t realize it, but I stepped down and away from Theology Gaming FB Group this year (seems like a long time ago now). While that transition hasn’t always been easy for me… I’m proud of what I accomplished there as a Community Manager, with a great group of guys, and I wish them the best in the years to come.

I wrote the following post back in April of this year. While I’m still sorting through these thoughts, I’m also more confident in just writing and sharing life… just being me without being a front/organization (I’ve ALWAYS struggled with this). Thanks for reading in 2018, I can’t wait to see where we’ll go in 2019.

Thinking Aloud

My church’s youth room is decorated with black and grey tones. Even the ceiling tiles have been painted black. The overall effect reminds me of a dark cave; a dark worship cave.

As I was waiting for my wife to get out of a summer camp meeting, I talked to a few of the guys hanging out in the youth room. I was immediately asked, “Do you play Fortnite?”

Wyatt, sitting next to me, suddenly perked up, “What’s Fortnite?”

I talked with this kid, we’ll call him Alex, about the game. He gave me a history lesson on the rise of battle royale games, how most of them stemmed from a game called ARMA.

I was reminded just how nerdy gaming culture can be when Alex dove into a PC versus console debate.

“I’m a part of the PC master race.”

I’m sure you are, Alex, I’m sure you are.

My youth room encounter got me thinking about this site, my thoughts towards ministry within the gaming culture, etc. I am reminded that gaming culture spans a large swath of demographics. That when I think of gaming culture, I think of those who are closer to my age, not someone like Alex.

Reminded me that I started this blog to encourage others in the gaming space. That JohnnyBGamer has always been about promoting a balance between life and gaming. My original tagline, for the site, was: “Because there is more to life than just gaming.” I created that tagline in the midst of a season of watching friends being consumed by what they were consuming, video games. I hated that, I hated the control gaming had upon them, had upon me.

At this point in life, I am at a place where gaming doesn’t have as strong as a pull as it once did. But in talking to Alex and his friend last night, I’m reminded that there are others still in the midst of that struggle. A struggle where kids I know, kids around me, are out of control in their gaming. Makes me wonder…

How can I help parents:

  • Curate the types of video games their family consumes
  • Promote healthy media consumption habits for their children

How can I help gamers:

  • Ask questions about the games they are playing
  • Learn healthy online habits for interacting within gaming culture
  • Be aware, overall, that there is more to life than just gaming

I am not sure where God is leading me right now. But these are thoughts I’m processing through in this season after stepping down from Theology Gaming. Whether I step out and do something “big”, become more purposeful with this blog, or just take the gaming lessons I’ve learned, along the way, and use them to help my son navigate the gaming space.

Personal Preferences and Media Consumption

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Back on this date in 2017, I asked the following question on Facebook:

Parents: How much do personal preferences play a role in what media your child consumes?

The general response was that personal parental preferences play a huge role in what media a child consumes. I know that for years, in my home, I have curated and encouraged consumption of specific video games, shows, and movies. Part of that is me being an engaged parent; the other part of that is wanting to show my son what quality media looks and feels like.

Super Mario Odyssey represents quality media.

Over the years, my son has watched a few shows that have driven me nuts. There has been nothing wrong with these shows, content-wise, but the voice acting and plotlines just seemed inane. Something I’ve had to learn, as a parent, is that sometimes my kid is going to like something I do not.

The big bad video game, in my house lately, has been Fortnite. A typical match looks like:

  • Picking a place on the map to start out in
  • Scavenging for weapons
  • Trying not to make a lot of noise and survive
  • Engaging fellow players with the weapons I’ve collected while trying not to become a victim of the virtual Hunger Games.

I have found that I enjoy the satisfaction of staying alive and making it into the final 5 players alive. Knowing that 95 other players have been eliminated and that I’m one of the few remaining is a good feeling. But I dislike how aimless Fortnite otherwise feels. I dislike the lack of direction, objectives, and how I have to make my own fun while surviving at the same time.

Fortnite does not fit my personal gaming preferences. This has taken me awhile to realize/put into words. But I’ve learned that there are times, as a parent, where you need to be quiet and explore the things your kids love. I may dislike Fortnite for many reasons, but I enjoy the time I get to play with my son. I have to focus on that positive, co-op play, and ignore the “we could be playing such-and-such game instead because that game is designed better” thoughts. Play in the moment, right?

Is Nintendo Labo Doomed?

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Variety posted an article today, “Nintendo Labo’s Last Chance“, that touches on the disappointing sales numbers the cardboard-based edutainment concept has suffered.

A lot rides on the next two months. “I had high expectations for Labo at the initial announcement that, so far at least, appear to have been a bit too enthusiastic,” NPD’s Mat Piscatella said. “But I’d agree that the holiday period would be the time for an uptick to happen.”

I thought this was sad.

A few weeks ago, Wyatt picked up the Nintendo Labo Vehicle Kit.

For a solid week, Labo overtook our house, knocking Fortnite into the oblivion. Wyatt would spend his free time folding cardboard, following the step-by-step instructions on the Switch. He built the:

  • Steering Wheel
  • Gas Pedal
  • Flight Stick

And then quit. No longer were:

  • Cars being driven
  • Objectives being accomplished
  • Nor planes dive bombing the blimp circling the in-game city

Nintendo Labo went from the hottest toy in the house to the cardboard refuse in the corner. The submarine controls remain to be built on a rainy day. But for that week that Labo overtook the house, I saw my son use his imagination in a different way. Refining his fine motor skills through folding cardboard. Interacting with on-screen instructions/games while physically manipulating cardboard. Labo is this perfect marriage of digital and physical toy combined. Truly a unique toy that could only have come from Nintendo.

I’m sure Wyatt will circle around back to Labo at some point. I guess all I need to do is grab a sheet of cardboard and start folding. Maybe even explore the way Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Labo interface with one another. Innovation deserves to be awarded and Nintendo Labo deserves to be experienced.

An Evening with Fortnite – Crossplay Enabled

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“Get on the Battle Bus, dad.”

“I’m not jumping out of that.”

“Just get on the bus.”

[Later, having exited the bus, we are now parachuting over an island that doesn’t appear to have a name…]

“Where should we go, Wyatt?”

“Umm… Lazy Links? Tilted Towers?”

“Just set a beacon and I’ll meet you there.”

“Okay.”

“I’ve got a gun for you, dad. You’re going the wrong way! LOOK OUT FOR THOSE MONSTERS!”

“Where are you? How can you tell if there are enemies around?”

“There are enemies dad!”

“Where?”

“I don’t know, I just heard one.”

[Somehow, we both end up in a gas station. A fellow player notices us and starts shooting.]

“Wyatt, there is a guy outside by the gas pumps.”

“WHERE?”

“THERE! He is right there! Get HIM!”

Pew. Pew. Pew.

“Guess we are dead? Should we go back to the lobby?”

“Yeah, dad, let’s play again.”

Wyatt and I tried to get Fortnite, on the PS4 and the Switch, to communicate a few weeks ago, shortly after crossplay was enabled. For some reason, we couldn’t receive friend invites at that time and thus couldn’t see each other in-game. So last night, we checked again and found that crossplay is now running in a stable manner. We were able to quickly become friends and enter into a match together.

So there we were:

  • Me, playing on the PS4 hooked up to the living room TV.
  • Wyatt, playing on the Switch, sitting next to me on the couch.

We ran around the cartoony world and kept dying. But the boy was super excited to be playing Fortnite with me. One of those moments where I wasn’t super enthused to be playing the game, but I was happy to just be hanging out with him.

Last night, I was reminded that often, as a parent, you have to do things your kids want you to do. You have to suck it up, quit being the boss, and enter into the worlds of play your kids are inviting you into. Whether that is playing LEGO, shooting each other outside with NERF, or playing Fortnite co-op, you are making memories with your kids. You want your kids to say: “My dad used to play with me.” Gotta remind myself of that.

Fortnite Strangers

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This month, Game Informer interviewed a professional Fortnite player, Cesar Sainz, who moonlights as a pro gaming coach. Imagine inviting a stranger, into your home via the Internet, and allowing them to coach your kid to be a better Fortnite player. Check out this quote from the piece:

Do you ever interact with parents at all about the lessons? Do you get a sense of what they think?

I’ve never really interacted with them. I’m just another person on the internet and they’re like “Oh, we get it.” A lot of the times when kids are around 10 or 11, we’ll speak a little at the beginning of the lesson, and they’ll say “Yeah, my son wants to get better.” It just seems like they want their kids to be super happy. Maybe they might not fully understand it but they see that being good at this game makes their kid extremely happy.

Hi, Parental Judgement here. Even through a professional coaching web site, wouldn’t you, as a parent, want to know who is speaking to your child? I’m sure that they’ve been vetted through the coaching web site but still. How about a little engagement in your child’s hobby, parents? Engagement that goes beyond opening your wallet and shoveling out money so that your kid can pay-to-win in real life.

I was talking to a friend recently. He had watched Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. He couldn’t believe how bad the movie was– for the record, I loved it!–.

“How can these people keep making the same mistakes?”

I want to know the same thing, parents. Why would you ever allow someone into your home, with a direct connection to your kids ear, without knowing who this person is? The dinosaurs keep getting out; the kids keep having bad things happen to them. Strengthen the perimeter fence, parents, and engage beyond the wallet.

From Across the Net – “Vancouver Canucks Ban Video Games While On The Road”

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This made me smile. There is something humorous about a big boy hockey team being told video games are a no-no.

As reported by The Province, Canucks’ center and alternate captain Bo Horvat explains that video games are presenting a distraction from players interacting with each other, as they’re just playing a lot of Fortnite instead.

“Yeah, that’s definitely a no-go on the road,” Horvat said. “No more Fortnite. No more bringing video games on the road. It’s strictly team meals, team dinners and hanging out with the guys. So we put an end to that.”

You can read more here

From Across the Net – “School-Year Screen-Time Rules from a Teacher”

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I enjoyed this piece, “School-Year Screen-Time Rules from a Teacher“, by Rebecca Young over at Common Sense Media.

Last year Fortnite invaded my middle school classroom — as I believe it did to middle school classrooms across the country. Students who were usually on task and high-performing were nodding off and “forgetting” to do their homework. The morning conversations about how late they stayed up or who was the last man standing became part of our early morning check-ins. Then the phone calls with parents started: Over several months, I had numerous telephone and after-school meetings with parents concerned about their kids’ performance. When I brought up screen time, there were a range of reactions. Some parents seemed oblivious as to what their children were doing after hours, some didn’t know how to rein in screen time, and some thought they had it all under control — but clearly did not.

You can read more here.

From Across the Net – “Should You Play Violent Video Games?”

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The recent extended stay of Fortnite, in my house, has me questioning video game violence once more. Specifically the language we use when playing violent games. The so-called Power Rangers Effect where kids start to do ninja moves after watching the show. But instead of ninja moves, using game specific weapons when talking/playing: “I’m going to kill you with my SMG.” Dr. Schut does a great job diving into the topic of video game violence.

I wish I could give you a simple formula: do this and don’t do that. But life doesn’t usually work out so neatly. I think the lines vary from person to person, from situation to situation, from mood to mood.

You can read more of Dr. Schut’s article titled “Should You Play Violent Video Games?” over at Love Thy Nerd.

Video Games and Attitude

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We have a rule in Hall household that goes something like this:

When you start to get angry or frustrated at a video game, you need to turn it off and take a break.

This rule applies to myself and to my son. Years of playing video games has taught me that taking a break, when angry or frustrated, is beneficial. Even when you are so frustrated that all you want to do is keep pushing through, I’ve found that it is best to stop. There is something taking a break does to the brain. As a kid, I remember pausing a game overnight and then being able to destroy a boss, that was previously impossible, the next day.

But what about when a game causes attitude? Anger that one can’t play longer or even has to quit? I remember a period when I was playing Mass Effect 2 a few years ago. I’d play the game late into the night, ignoring my bride, who would end up giving up and going to bed. I felt a pull while playing that game, a drive to see where the story went. Mass Effect 2 had it’s hooks in me just as World of Warcraft did years before.

I know that I can have issues with some games. Even though I haven’t been hooked on a game in awhile, I know that the right combination of design elements can take me down.

The same is true with my son. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild pushed all the right buttons for him. It was all that he and the kids at church were talking about. I’d constantly hear about the Divine Powers:

  • Revali’s Gale
  • Daruk’s Protection
  • Mipha’s Grace
  • Urbosa’s Fury

I’d hear so much about Breath of the Wild that I thought I was going to go nuts. And the attitude that came with the game, whenever he had to quit, was frustrating.

Tabitha and I find ourselves at the same attitude point again with Fortnite. But this time it’s a little different due to gaming elements Fortnite embraces (your child is being manipulated):

  1. The Store with Artificial Demand – When you log into the game, you can easily tab over to the Fortnite store. Here you can look/obsess/covet the latest in Fortnite cosmetics. Some of these cosmetics are available for a limited time, playing into an artificial demand where kids think they have to purchase something before it is gone.
  2. The Subscription with a Shady Pay-to-Win-with-Time Formula – Once you buy the $10 Battle Pass, Fortnite is all about unlocking tiers, which then unlock different cosmetics/skins/cool looking things. Fortnite developers Epic Games boasts on their website that the Battle Pass equals: 100 tiers, 100 rewards. One marketing bullet point states that it takes 75-150 hours worth of gameplay to unlock everything in the Battle Pass. Fortnite encourages players to dump as much time as they can into the game through their shady tier/unlock scheme. A pay-to-win-with-time formula, aimed at children.
  3. The Feedback Loop – A typical match takes 20 minutes to play. Unless you are knocked out of the match, in which case you can just jump into another match… and another match… and another match. This creates a feel good feedback loop for your brain. Just one more match, mom.

What is a parent to do? Here are a few things I’ve learned:

  • On the Nintendo Switch, you can set a screen time timer to help manage your child’s play. There are several options to choose from when the timer runs out, including shutting down the console (if you are feeling evil; Do not provoke your children… – Ephesians 6:4). Each console has different parental settings, read up on them, empower yourself.
  • Parent. Talk to your child about their attitude. Be ready to follow through with consequences (don’t offer empty threats). Also don’t be afraid to have your child take a day off a game.

Gaming attitude is something our parents did not have to deal with as much as we have to–although I say that while clearly remembering my Mom taking away the NES controllers–. So set some boundaries/consequences and read up/educate yourself on the tools you have at your disposal. Learn about the game your child is playing, the one you are growing to hate because of their attitude. You never know, you might learn something about your child and be able to help them set healthy boundaries to use later on in their adult lives.

You are the parent. You do not deal nor negotiate with emotional terrorism.

Gaming is a privilege, not a right. (I can’t believe I just wrote that as a dad who games.)

How are you working through your child’s attitude when it comes to games?

Parenting through the Fortnite Fog

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Fortnite makes me feel old.

Let me try that again, talking with my son about Fortnite makes me feel old. Figuring out the pricing structure for the game made me feel even older.

Parenting Website Fail

My search began in the in-game Fortnite store. Tabitha and I wanted Wyatt to buy the full Fortnite game first before spending money on micro-transactions (skins/costumes). I could not find a full game unlock in the store, but I noticed something called a Battle Pass. I was confused. The parenting fog of war was beginning to set in, as I tried to pit normal video game pricing logic versus free-to-play logic. All I wanted to know is:

What is the difference between the $60 base game (I kept finding on Google) versus the $10 Battle Pass?

The information I found on parenting websites was either outdated or months old. Add in the different consoles with their different versions and the confusion only grew thicker.

After awhile, I figured out that the Nintendo Switch version is different than the Xbox and PS4 versions. The Xbox/PS4 has a $60 physical version that features an exclusive zombie mode. The Switch version, it turns out, does not have a physical version/zombie mode and only requires a $10 Battle Pass. Beginning to see the light, Wyatt and I got in the car and headed to GameStop to pick up some V-Bucks (Fortnite’s in-game currency).

Seeing the Light in GameStop

The friendly GameStop employee quickly confirmed my thoughts:

  • On the Xbox/PS4, $60 buys you a physical copy of the game that features an exclusive zombie mode.
  • A $10 Battle Pass, think subscription, allows you to play the game through a season (10 weeks). The Battle Pass gives you experience point multipliers (helps you level faster) as well as the opportunity to unlock in-game cosmetics/skins. Parents: You or your child can still play the game without a Battle Pass. You just don’t get the “fun” unlocks.
  • Instead of having the game tied to your credit card, you can buy a pre-loaded card that has money on it for your respective system. For instance: We picked up a $10 Nintendo eShop card. Keep in mind that when we bought the Battle Pass later on, the Battle Pass came out to $10.31. Yes parents, tax is involved so plan accordingly.

In the End

I’m not sure how I feel about paying $10 every 10 weeks for the ability to unlock items that are already present in the game. Maybe this is where I start to show my age; maybe all games work like this? I’d much rather pay a $60 one-time fee and be done with it though. But we’ll see how long the Fortnite craze holds in the Hall household. Right now, I’m looking at opening my own account on the PS4 in order to play with Wyatt. I’ll report back, at some point, with my Fortnite impressions. Until then, play all the games or not.

When was the last time your kid/s made you feel old?

Surf Report: A Recap of the Week of September 23

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Welcome to the Surf Report for the Week of September 23.

.: God:

God has been teaching me quite a bit when it comes to the Bible study I’ve been leading on Wednesday nights. He has been teaching me to remember:

  • Not everyone is a Christian AND not all Christians are at the same place in their walk with God.
  • To not take personally the people who choose to come and go. Attendance has been inconsistent/up and down.
  • To lead. That it doesn’t matter how much older the rest of the guys are, I’m there to facilitate discussion and lead the group.

I wrote a bit about some of our discussion this week in “How do you de-stress?” Also had a friend send me a link to a video that I found helpful in studying 1 John (which we’ve been going over on Wednesday nights).

.: Life:

This week I found out that there are Josh Groban fans. I learned that I should never talk bad about a character Josh Groban plays (especially on Twitter). Ah, the Internet. You can read my thoughts on Josh Groban’s new project in “Things to Avoid – The Good Cop“.

Also spent some time in a clinic last week, wrote about that experience in “Missing the Firetwuck“.

.: Gaming:

My week has been completely devoid of video games. But I did re-post a Tim Challies article from awhile back (“From Across the Net – ‘Christian Men and Their Video Games’“). His article reminded me of the Christian tension of being in the world but not of the world. Got me thinking of debates I’ve been a part of over the years. Debates on Christian liberty, discernment, and the almost Christian desire to have everything spelled out in black and white.

There are definitely games fellow believers shouldn’t touch. The Bible, the Holy Spirit, family and friends help us navigate what we should and should not consume.

Question of the Week: Do you think Fortnite’s timed cosmetic purchases are predatory towards young kids?

That’s it for this week. If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, don’t hesitate to post them in the comments below. Have a great weekend!

From Across the Net – “Dear Fortnite Mom”

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Enjoyed the practical advice from a Love Thy Nerd piece titled “Dear Fortnite Mom”:

I also wanted to suggest a way in which Fortnite might become a tool for growth for your son rather than cause strife in your family. Those parents I was talking about earlier? Lots of them use Fortnite as a motivator. If your son wants money for a Fortnite skin, then perhaps he should be willing to do something to earn it. Maybe you already do this, but I figured I’d share my approach.

Read more here

Thinking Aloud

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My church’s youth room is decorated with black and grey tones. Even the ceiling tiles have been painted black. The overall effect reminds me of a dark cave; a dark worship cave.

As I was waiting for my wife to get out of a summer camp meeting, I talked to a few of the guys hanging out in the youth room. I was immediately asked, “Do you play Fortnite?”

Wyatt, sitting next to me, suddenly perked up, “What’s Fortnite?”

I talked with this kid, we’ll call him Alex, about the game. He gave me a history lesson on the rise of battle royale games, how most of them stemmed from a game called ARMA.

I was reminded just how nerdy gaming culture can be when Alex dove into a PC versus console debate.

“I’m a part of the PC master race.”

I’m sure you are, Alex, I’m sure you are.

My youth room encounter got me thinking about this site, my thoughts towards ministry within the gaming culture, etc. I am reminded that gaming culture spans a large swath of demographics. That when I think of gaming culture, I think of those who are closer to my age, not someone like Alex.

Reminded me that I started this blog to encourage others in the gaming space. That JohnnyBGamer has always been about promoting a balance between life and gaming. My original tagline, for the site, was: “Because there is more to life than just gaming.” I created that tagline in the midst of a season of watching friends being consumed by what they were consuming, video games. I hated that, I hated the control gaming had upon them, had upon me.

At this point in life, I am at a place where gaming doesn’t have as strong as a pull as it once did. But in talking to Alex and his friend last night, I’m reminded that there are others still in the midst of that struggle. A struggle where kids I know, kids around me, are out of control in their gaming. Makes me wonder…

How can I help parents:

  • Curate the types of video games their family consumes
  • Promote healthy media consumption habits for their children

How can I help gamers:

  • Ask questions about the games they are playing
  • Learn healthy online habits for interacting within gaming culture
  • Be aware, overall, that there is more to life than just gaming

I am not sure where God is leading me right now. But these are thoughts I’m processing through in this season after stepping down from Theology Gaming. Whether I step out and do something “big”, become more purposeful with this blog, or just take the gaming lessons I’ve learned, along the way, and use them to help my son navigate the gaming space.